I regularly find IOMEGA Zip drives at garage sales and thrift stores, but most often of the common Parallel port only variety. Last summer I scored a box full of Zip disks and Parallel port drives from a garage sale for only a few dollars. I picked them up thinking I could do something with them.
After using the Zip disks for a short while, I found no point in using them with my vintage PCs. I have many other methods of storing larger amounts of data, and the speed of the Parallel port is painfully slow.
More recently I thrifted an IOMEGA Zip100 Plus drive to use with some of my older Macintosh SE computers, specifically one with a broken floppy disk drive that I can’t easily get any data on or off of it. The internal hard drive is a mere 40MB, so having a 100MB Zip disk is a huge upgrade.
The Plus variety of the Zip100 is great as it can operate on either SCSI or Parallel ports, which means it’s easy to use with both vintage PCs and Macs. However, I wanted to get some use out of my other Zip drives, and the Parallel port versions of them won’t work with Macs.
After a bit of searching online, I found many forums and posts where people were successfully able to use their SCSI versions of the Zip drive with the Basilisk II Mac emulator. This usually involved purchasing a SCSI card for their PC, and setting up Basilisk to recognize the SCSI device. I found nothing about the Parallel version, but I did some experimentation and found that I can indeed also use the Parallel drive with an older version of Basilisk II.
Using this method I was able to copy all of my games over to Zip disks for use with my vintage Macs, and lived happily ever after.
Here’s how I did it:
I started with an older 32bit Windows XP machine, and installed the IOMega software to get it up and running as you would normally if you were going to use the Parallel Zip drive with a PC.
I then downloaded an older version of Basilisk II (build 142 from 2001) and set it up with System 7.5.5 and confirmed that everything was working as it should.
From here, there are 2 different ways to set this up.
- As a removable disk drive.
- As a hard disk.
As a Removable Disk Drive
After launching the Basilisk II GUI app, move over to the ‘Floppy’ tab. If you successfully installed the Zip drivers in Windows, you should see it listed in the ‘Available Floppies’ section.
Move the drive over to the ‘Installed Floppies’ section.
That’s pretty much it! I haven’t had any luck with the ‘Enable polling’ option under the ‘Disk’ tab, so in order for the emulator to see your Zip disk you’ll have to hit Ctrl-Shift-F11 to detect inserted media.
The Zip disk should now show up on the desktop. No drivers from within Basilik II are required, and it shows up with its standard Zip disk icon!
As a Hard Disk
This method is a bit trickier, and honestly the floppy method is recommended. Both methods serve the same general purpose, and will allow you to boot your emulator using system software installed on your Zip disk.
This hard disk method won’t allow you to eject your disk while you’re using Basilisk, as it is treated as more of a hard disk. It’s still useful to know, especially if you plan on using a Zip disk as a hard drive for both an emulator and hardware. You’re essentially moving your entire computer back and forth.
The first step in this method requires a text editor. My editor of choice is Notepad++, but really anything that will allow you to modify the ‘BasiliskII_prefs’ file will work just fine.
Open up your ‘My Computer’ directory to confirm which drive letter your Zip drive was assigned. Mine was assigned drive K:, but yours will probably be different.
In the Basilisk II directory, find and open up the file ‘BasiliskII_prefs’. (If you installed Notepad++ you’ll be able to right click the file and select ‘Edit with Notepad++’.)
This file contains all of the settings for Basilisk II. At the top of this file we need to insert a setting to let Basilisk know that we want the Zip drive to be listed as an available disk. (You cannot select a directory from within the Basilisk II GUI program, but rather only disk image files, which is why we need to manually insert this.)
On the first line insert the following:
Where K is, you should insert the drive letter that your Zip drive was assigned in Windows.
Save the file, and close it.
Launch the BasiliskIIGUI program and click on the ‘Disk’ tab. In the ‘Installed disks’ box, you should see your Zip drive letter listed. It should be at the top of the list if you intend on booting from it.
From here, you can go ahead and boot your emulator and let it load. It will be much slower than you’re probably used to since it is both loading from actual hardware rather than a file, and from the Parallel port as well.
At this point it could take up to a few minutes before anything happens. The first time I launched it my emulator seemingly froze for a good 3 minutes, but since has been pretty speedy.
If all went well you should be looking at your desktop which has booted from your Zip disk using a Zip drive over the Parallel port! Congratulations!
This is great and all, but there are a few things to note:
- The Zip disks I used were already Mac formatted. If you insert a PC formatted Zip disk, it will show up as a 1.4MB floppy disk. I have not found a way to reformat a PC disk to a Macintosh disk from within the emulator. (Please let me know in the comments if you have!)
- I did not need to install the Mac IOMEGA Zip driver. This uses the driver under Windows, so it is not required to install the Mac version.
- The Zip disk must be inserted prior to starting the emulator when using the Hard Disk method. Even if you’re not booting from the drive, it must be inserted before you start up Basilisk. It won’t detect the disk otherwise.
- Wait it out! If the emulator hangs, give it time. The first time around it took several minutes for the emulator to load before letting me continue.
I hope this information helps someone, and good luck!